Saturday, August 31, 2013

50+ Things that Are 50 in 2013

Mental Floss assembled a nice list of fifty things, including The X-Men, cassette tapes, nanoseconds, zip codes and the Rolling Stones (The Stones brought Charlie Watts on board that year) that turn(ed) fifty this year.  They left out a 51st.  Today I have reached that bend in the river of life.  I bet I still have the best squirt gun on the block.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Restaurant Review -- Sunrise, Decherd, Tennessee

On our trip earlier this month to our family cabin in Estill Springs, Tennessee, we noticed Sunrise, The Breakfast Place, which is in a strip mall off of Dinah Shore Boulevard at 42 East Heikens Drive in Decherd, Tennessee.  The place is a bit hard to spot because it has only a tiny sign, like a real estate "For Sale" sign, on the boulevard.  It is a funky little place, nicely and cheerfully decorated, and they served a hearty breakfast.  The food came up quickly.  It was more expensive than our usual breakfast place, Sample Family Restaurant in Estill Springs.  Our bill was about $33.00, including tip.  Sherry liked Sunrise better, but I'm kind of partial to Sample's.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Molly's Perch

Molly the cat likes to perch on the top of the sofa so she can look out the window, where she likes to sun herself and cuss the birds at the feeder outside the window.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miss Murphy

This is my Great Aunt Carrie's painting of Miss Murphy, the outhouse at our cabin in Estill Springs, and it nicely captures what it looked like before it fell into disrepair, though the wooden walkway didn't really bridge a ditch.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Thirsty Tree

This is The Thirsty Tree of Lake Superior, where it grows atop Chapel Rock.  It has a rock extended into some soil on top of the rocks nearby its perch.  More at Neatorama.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Restaurant Review -- Boondocks Brewing, West Jefferson, North Carolina

When we were in Ashe County, North Carolina, for the Powell/Church family reunion recently, a large crew of kinfolk gathered at Boondocks Brewing, located at 108 South Jefferson Avenue, West Jefferson, North Carolina.  I had the Gabby Crabby Melt, which was delicious.  Sherry, Sarah and I dined for about $63.00, which includes the tip.  The place was very busy on that Friday evening.  We were a large table, but the service was reasonably good.  I'd go back.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ain't It Good to Be Alive and Be in Tennessee?

We spent much of the day yesterday cleaning house in anticipation of entertaining guests next weekend, and we rewarded ourselves with a quick trip today up to Abrams Creek for a picnic and a dip in the refreshing mountain water.  We like this little spot, and found it unoccupied, so we claimed it as our picnic spot.
This is the time of year one usually spots Fire on the Mountain, or Fire Pink, up in the Smokies.  I had my eyes open for the flower, which is one of my favorite wildflowers, and thought I had spotted one when I saw these lovely blooms, which turned out to be Cardinal Flower.
I took the news of the closure of Abrams Creek campground and Look Rock campground in stoic fashion, figuring that if the federal government needed to cut spending, I could do without my two favorite campgrounds for a season as a sacrifice for the common good.  I'm over it.  The sequester sucks.
As a dad, sharing the mountains I have loved all my life with my family is happiness indeed, and watching Sarah floating lazily down Abrams Creek in the summer sun pleases me greatly.  We live in a glorious corner of this big ol' crazy world, and I am a lucky man to be able to see her learning to love the Smokies as I do.
I'm not sure what this flower is, but it sure is pretty.
We've had a wet spring and summer here in East Tennessee, and it has brought forth an abundant crop of gnats this season.  This is a picture of Sarah's last trip down the river before they ran us out of the Abrams Creek valley and back to civilization.  It was a fun outing!  Back to work and school we go tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dad's Birthday

My father, Phillip Ellis Ogle, known as Phil, would have been 76 today.  He died in 1993, just a few weeks after I started practicing law here in Maryville.  We will be thinking about him when we celebrate my fiftieth birthday next Saturday.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Birthday to the Audiocassette

My fiftieth birthday is this month, and I recently learned that audio cassette tapes, on which the anthems of my youth were recorded, were introduced to the public in August 1963, the month and year I was born.  My dad recorded us as kids with a portable cassette recorder, but those tapes have been lost.  The TDK brand was my cassette of choice, but I usually used 90 minute tapes, which held an album's worth of music on each side, plus a few bonus tracks.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season

This is an image from the Cassini spacecraft showing a huge hurricane over the north pole of Saturn.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Invade My House, Will You?

We have had some ants in our kitchen, and I've blasted them with a couple of rounds of bug spray.  It stops them for a while, but they return, so last weekend I went to Home Depot for better weaponry.  I bought a gallon of insecticide for my pump sprayer, but one of the friendly folk in the orange vests suggested I also try some liquid bait.

She explained to me that the drones take the poisoned bait back to the hive and feed it to the queen, so that the hive is terminated.  I thought the $6.00 price was pretty cheap for regicide, so I bought it and placed it in the areas where we've seen ants.  I even put a sticky note over the trap in the kitchen that says, "Free ant food here."  We've seen ants on the sun porch, too, where they have been poaching Molly's cat kibble crumbs, and the presumptuous intruders have been coming right under the screened front door of the porch.

I placed the bait by the porch door, right next to where an enterprising spider has built her nest, which is full of dead ants, and she has a nest of her young ready to hatch and feed upon them.  There are so many ants, they have managed to dump the trap onto the floor, where they are lined up around the lake of poison ant death, which they are industriously draining to carry back to the queen ant.  Bon appetit!  It is a lovely ant house of horrors.  After they finish their deadly dinner, I will spray the perimeter to prevent future incursions.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Reaper

Allen Lanier, one of the founders of Blue Oyster Cult, died last Wednesday, August 14, 2013.  The Rolling Stone has coverage, and if the sad news makes you want to hear "Don't Fear the Reaper" click here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Weekend Stuff

Sherry got home yesterday afternoon after her trip to Nashville to see Joey and Jake get their senior portraits made.  Inasmuch as we traveled to the Camp last weekend, Sarah and I stayed in East Tennessee to work on some chores in advance of my fiftieth birthday at the end of the month, when we expect house guests.

We spent the night over at Mom's in Knoxville Friday evening and watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was a pretty good flick, and then we came home, ran a few errands and worked on our chores.  My casual shoes, having been abused by my bunions for several years now, are coming apart at the seams, so I picked up a pair of tennis shoes.  Sarah has been looking for some cowboy boots, and found a pair she liked, so I bought them for her.

La reported that her renters saw a bear up in Gatlinburg at Cozy Creek, which is the first time we've heard of a bear sighting there.  I checked in with Leslie, who told me Jimmy Buffett's latest CD is to be released Tuesday.  I knew he had Songs From St. Somewhere in the works, and suspected its release was eminent because Buffett made an appearance on the Today show Friday morning.  I ordered it first thing this morning.

UPDATE:  Time magazine has an interview with Buffett, and you can listen to "Einstein Was a Surfer," one of the tracks on his new CD. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Olinguito -- A New Mammal Is Discovered

The internet has been busy with talk of a newly discovered mammal in South America.  Related to the raccoon, this cute little fellow is an olinguito, but I don't think it's going to be cool to make a coonskin cap out of him.  In no time, however, he's bound to be the subject of internet memes.  Hopefully, someone will find a grumpy one.

Updated with meme.

More Snapshots From Franklin County

I have visited Winchester, Tennessee, since I was a child because Dad grew up there and Grandmother and Granddaddy Ogle lived there, but I have never seen a flick in the Oldham Theater on the town square.  Sherry and Sarah saw the new Smurf movie while we were there last weekend.  I stayed at the Camp and enjoyed the creek.

We had to do a bit of work in Estill Springs on this trip.  The roof to the screened porch was leaking when we last visited in April, and we've had a very wet season this year.  The accumulated leaves on the roof had worn to a fine, rich soil in which various plants were growing.  Sarah and I swept and raked the roof of the porch, and I put a tarp over it until we can save the money to put a new roof on the whole house, hopefully next spring or summer.
Sherry laughed at my tarp job, but I think it will do the trick if the wind doesn't take it.

One of our cabin rituals is the building of dams across the creek.  Here is the dam Sarah and I built last weekend.  We found another crawdad with a Power T, but I didn't get a picture this time because the little guy had a soft shell.  I didn't want to hurt him.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer Visit to The Camp

We spent last weekend at my Ogle grandparents' cabin in Estill Springs, Tennessee, and as usual we spent most of our time at the creek, which flows from a sulfur spring for which the town was named.  The springs are said to be medicinal.  Our cabin and creek are always restorative for me.

Here is a view of the creek looking downstream from the Camp.  It was misty on the creek Friday evening, but this photograph doesn't really capture it.

We were pleasantly surprised to find a fire hydrant planted in the driveway of the Camp, which vandals once tried to burn down by breaking one of the front windows and setting the day bed on fire.  Grandmother and Granddaddy replaced the mattress on the day bed, and it still serves us well.  As you can see, the hydrant still has the tag from the factory.

I need to kill some English Ivy and paint some shutters.

This is the Franklin County Courthouse.  It dominates the Winchester town square, which recently lost Hammer's to Dinah Shore Boulevard.  We were saddened to see Hammer's leave the square, because my sisters and I have been shopping there since we were big enough for our parents and grandparents to allow us to walk there from Grandmother and Granddaddy's house on North Jefferson Street. 

We used to buy Granddaddy Moon Pies there, and we bought one for him the day of his funeral.  I don't know if he was buried with it, but it went into the casket with him before they closed it.  The new space for Hammer's on the boulevard has much less personality than their space on the square, but it is still Hammer's.  They need to ditch the music, though.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ProNova Solutions Groundbreaking

Yesterday morning I attended the groundbreaking for ProNova Solutions, the first business to build in the Pellissippi Place development.  The event was well-attended, and the rain held off for a successful groundbreaking.  The business intends to invest millions of dollars at the site and eventually employ 500 people here in Blount County.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Left-Handers Day

My daughter Sarah is left-handed, so I was pleased to learn that their is an International Left-Handers Day on August 13 each year.  Although right-handed, I am left-footed, though my right foot is not nearly as useless as my left hand.  Sadly, a Google search revealed no Left-Footers Day.

More Cousins!

Here are the last of the photographs I will post about our very fun Powell/Church family reunion in Jefferson, North Carolina.  Pictured above are four more second cousins I didn't know I had.  They are the grandchildren of my Grandmother Isenhour's oldest sister, Flora Ethel Powell, known as "Ethel."  From left to right are Laura (named, like my sister Laura, for our great-grandmother Laura Emaline Church Powell), Linda, Craig and Patty.

Pictured here with me is Barbara Jean Powell Zimmerman, daughter of Claybourne Forrest Powell, known as "Clay."  Uncle Clay was the youngest child of Francis Marion Powell and Laura Emaline Church Powell, and my Grandmother Isenhour's brother.  I worked for Barbara and her husband Walter when I was a freshman and sophomore in college, and their sons Jon and Scott, also my second cousins, worked there, too.  It was hard, hot work, but we had a lot of fun making books of fabric and leather samples for the furniture industry.  Unfortunately, Jon and Scott could not attend.

Here are Tony Powell, grandson of Chester Willard Powell, known as "Chet," and Tony's wife Bertie, who got drenched in the rain bringing me an umbrella when Tony, our cousin Elena and I were heading off to explore the Cool Spring Baptist Church site where our third great grandfather, Willie (Bill) Church once preached.  Tony and Bertie are two more second cousins I had never met.  California Mice!  (See the link below about the whole mice thing.  Our family thrives on running jokes.)

I include this picture of Andrea pool sharking the guys because the pool room level of the Carolina House at Jefferson Landing, where all these pictures were taken, was a lively part of our reunion.  The place was a four-level townhouse.  The top level had the main kitchen and living room, and it was the place to go for genealogy and family tales.  The next level down was the pool room, site of much joking and bantering, and no small amount of pool.  The third level had a den and the second kitchen, and Sarah's generation made that their area, with the parents keeping an eye on and entertaining the young-uns in shifts.  The fourth level was just bedrooms, and didn't get much traffic, except for the sleepy.

Here's Mom, on the right, and her first cousin, Willa Dean, daughter of Aunt Ethel.  They must have coordinated their outfits.

From left to right, Craig, John and Cara, me, Sherry, Sarah, and Gracie Graham in the pool room.

Cousin Cara and Aunt Joan were the moving forces behind getting this reunion going, though many family members contributed to its success.  Beach mice and City Mice, unite!

Kim and I are first cousins, and her father Bobby Calvin Cloninger was a Navy veteran of World War II and my Uncle Bob.  He fought in the Pacific theater, and I hope to learn more about his service.  She reminds me of my cousin Julie, who has always been kind to me.  It was a fun reunion, and one of the best weekends I've had in years.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Want One

As my fiftieth birthday draws nigh and being one of the last of the big-time gift-grubbers, I have posted a couple of ideas for presents on this blog.  This must be my mid-life crisis, but I'm not the type to want a fancy sports car.  I want one of these bad boys.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Vela Supernova

This image shows part of the remains of the Vela supernova, the aftermath of the explosion of an ancient star some 12,000 years ago.  (Via the Australian Astronomical Observatory)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Abbey Road

On August 8, 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan took this famous picture of the Beatles walking acorss a zebra crossing on Abbey Road.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Last weekend's Powell/Church reunion in Jefferson, Ashe County, North Carolina, was a great gathering of cousins.  These two first cousins, my daughter Sarah and my niece Grace, see a lot of each other here in East Tennessee.  In this picture they are building a pillow fort in Mom's room at the lodge where we stayed.

Here my sister Laura and I are pictured with the Albamonte men, our first cousins from in and around Washington, DC.  Because we grew up here in East Tennessee, and they and their sister, Elena, grew up in Washington, we have always thought of the Albamonte kids as the city mice and ourselves as the country mice.  They and their mom, my Aunt Joan, always show us a great time when we visit our nation's capital.  From left to right are me, George, Laura, David and Andrew.  David, Andrew and I played an interesting card game called Pirate Fluxx in which the play of a particular card causes you to get extra points for talking like a pirate.  Arrrrrggh!  David and I found a little time to play guitar, and George entertained the kids with magic tricks.

After our canoe trip on the New River with Cara and John, we met up with most of the Albamonte clan for a meal in town.  I'll blog about the restaurant later. It was a festive meal!

I acquired Skippy, my black rubber rat when I was in my twenties, and he is perhaps my favorite toy.  His adventures are legion, and he goes on most road trips with us.  To our mutual surprise, my new found second cousin Cara also has a black rubber rat, and hers is named Scarlett!  My sisters were amazed.

My sisters and I are the Country Mice, and the Albamonte and Somavilla cousins are the City Mice.  I told Cara about it, and she dubbed herself and our Florida cousins the Beach Mice.  I guess the rats are honorary mice.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Preacher Willie Lee "Bill" Church at Cool Spring Baptist Church

Our family reunion last weekend was a gathering of the descendants of Francis Marion Powell and Laura Emaline Church Powell, known as Mama and Papa Powell to their grandchildren, which include my mom.  Through a torrential downpour, my intrepid Aunt Joan led an expedition to visit the site of Cool Springs Baptist Church, which is on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Ashe County, North Carolina.

This is the reconstructed church described in the sign pictured at the top of this page.  Elena, my first cousin and Aunt Joan's daughter, Tony Powell, my second cousin and the grandson of Chester Powell, and I ventured out of the cars to explore the buildings at the site where Willie Lee "Bill" Church once preached as a Baptist circuit-riding minister in the mountain communities of his day.  According to Elena, he was our third great grandfather.  We three adventurers are all great grandchildren of Francis and Laura Powell, mentioned above.

The replica of Jesse Brown's house gave us a bit of shelter from the rain.  I was pretty damp by the time this snapshot was taken.

Cousin Tony, pictured here in the shelter of the Brown house and whom I met for the first time on this trip, came all the way from California with his wife, Bertie, for the reunion.  Because our mothers are close in age, my sisters and I have visited with Elena and her brothers, George, David and Andrew many times since we were all kids playing in Grandmother Isenhour's back yard.  It was really cool to have so many cousins together in one place to swap stories about our family.

This is a view of the sign and church building from the Parkway.